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"Operating the Mark IV Tank" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   Information on operating the Panzer IV from a captured German training pamphlet, from the Intelligence Bulletin, December 1942.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data is available in postwar publications.]



A captured German training pamphlet contains the following information regarding the duties of the crew of a Mark IV tank, and the means of intercommunication:


The crew consists of five men—a commander, a gunner, a loader, a driver, and a radio operator who is also the hull machine-gunner.

The tank commander, who is an officer or senior noncom, is responsible for the vehicle and the crew. He indicates targets to the gunner, gives fire orders, and observes the fall of shots. He keeps a constant lookout for the enemy, observes the zone for which he is responsible, and watches for any orders from the commander's vehicle. In action, he gives his orders to the driver and radio operator by intercommunication telephone, and to the gunner and loader by touch signals or through a speaking tube. He receives orders by radio or flag, and reports to his commander by radio, signal pistol, or flag.

The gunner is second in command. He fires the turret gun, the turret machine gun, or the machine carbine, as ordered by the tank commander. He assists the tank commander in observation.

The loader loads and maintains the turret armament under the orders of the gunner. He is also responsible for care of ammunition, and—when the cupola is closed—gives any flag signals required. He replaces the radio operator if the latter becomes a casualty.

The driver operates the vehicle under the orders of the tank commander, or in accordance with orders received by radio from the commander's vehicle. So far as possible, he assists in observation, reporting over the intercommunication telephone the presence of the enemy or of any obstacles in the path of the tank. He watches the fuel consumption and is responsible to the tank commander for the care and maintenance of the vehicle.

The radio operator operates the radio set under the orders of the tank commander. In action, when not actually transmitting, he always keeps the radio set at "receive." He operates the intercommunication telephone and writes down any radio messages not sent or received by the tank commander. He fires the machine gun mounted in the front superstructure. He takes over the duties of the loader if the latter becomes a casualty.


The following means of intercommunication are available:

External: Voice radio and key radio, flag signals, hand signals, signal pistol, and flashlight.

Internal: Intercommunication telephone, speaking tube, and touch signals.

The maximum distance for satisfactory voice radio communication between two moving vehicles is about 3 3/4 miles, and for satisfactory key radio communication about 6 1/4 miles.

Flag signals are used for short-distance communications only, and a flashlight is used at night. The signal pistol is used for prearranged signals—chiefly to other arms, such as the infantry.

The radio set, in conjunction with the intercommunication telephone, provides the tank commander, radio operator, and driver with a means for external and internal voice communication. The same microphones and telephone receiver headsets are used in both cases.

When the control switch on the radio is set at Empfang (receive), and that on the junction box of the intercommunication telephone at Bord und Funk (internal and radio—that is, intercommunication telephone and external voice or key radio), the commander, radio operator, and driver hear all incoming voice radio signals. Any of these men can also speak to the other two after switching his microphone into the circuit by means of the switch on his chest.

For voice radio transmission, the switch on the radio set is adjusted to Telephonic (telephone). The telephone switch may be left at Bord und Funk. Either the tank commander or the radio operator can then transmit, and both they and the driver will hear the messages transmitted. Internal communication is also possible at the same time, but the conversation will be transmitted.

If the radio set is disconnected or out of order, the telephone switch may be adjusted to Bord (internal). The tank commander and driver can then speak to one another, and the radio operator can speak to them, but cannot hear what they say. This also applies when a radio receiver is available, but no transmitter, with the difference that incoming voice radio signals can then be heard by the radio operator.

The signal flags are normally carried in holders on the left of the driver's seat. When the cupola is open, flag signals are given by the tank commander; when it is closed, the loader raises the circular flap in the left of the turret roof and signals with the appropriate flag through the port thus opened. Flag signals are given in accordance with a definite code, the meaning of any signal depending on the color of the flag used and whether the flag is held still or moved in a particular way.

Pistol signals are given through the signal port in the turret roof, through the cupola, or through one of the vision openings in the turret wall. The signal pistol must not be cocked until the barrel is already projecting outside the tank. It is normally used only when the tank is at the halt. The main function of this means of communication is the giving of prearranged signals to the infantry or other troops.

When the tank is traveling at night, with lights dimmed or switched off altogether, driving signals are given with the aid of a dimmed flashlight. The same method is also employed when tanks are in a position of readiness and when leaguered (in bivouac).

Orders are transmitted from the tank commander to the gunner by means of speaking-tube and touch signals. The latter also used for messages from the commander to the loader, a between the gunner and loader.

See Also: Tactics Used by Pz. Kw. 4's (with Short 75-mm Gun), Further Information About German Tanks, Armored Forces
Keywords: Panzerkampfwagen IV, Panzer IV, Pz.Kpfw. IV, Sd. Kfz. 161

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